The Ninjadilloes gathered under the decorative cacti, beady 'dilloe eyes set red on the Finity Ranch. Their plan was simple.
"Tonight we take out the Finity woman," Sensei Takomoto-Dilloe told his Roided friends. "She is the only one between us and total domination of West Parker County. Take her out, we own the fields."
"Banzai! Banzai!" the massed Ninjadilloes shouted rhythmically. "Let the divine wind blow through us this night."
In the annals of warfare there are those great moments we all know. The 300 Spartans at Themopalye. The 186 Texicans at the Alamo. The doomed charge of the Light Brigade. All of those, we all have heard.
There are other signature moments of conflict about which we seldom hear or read.
There were the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo and then had to raise it again under fire for the cameras. They were almost forgotten.
There were the fellows who fought up and down Pork Chop Hill in the Korean Conflict. They fought courageously in America's forgotten war.
Then, there was my aunt, Fanny Griswallader, who stomped through a crowd of crazed women to capture the last Cabbage Patch Kid in the Waxahachie Wal-Mart during the December '78, Cabbage Patch Campaign. She lost her purse, some skin and all her composure to get her hands on that last CP Kid.
"There was a 300 pounder in short shorts between me and the doll. Others stopped short at the sight of her. She had tatoos the size of Volkswagens on her back. That woman should not have worn a tube top in public. I would not be frightened. I had my eyes on the prize," Aunt Fanny Griswallader would always tell us children.
Of course, Aunt Fanny Griswallader was not really my aunt. She was just this kind of crazed woman who showed up at our house whenever we had a big meal, to tell us kids the story, the real story, of the '78 Cabbage Patch Kid Campaign, which could not have happened in Waxahachie in '78,because they did not open their big Wal-Mart there until the late '80's but we did not want to interrupt her, it was such a good story and she was so passionate about the story, too, and besides, she was pretty big and scary herself, with hair growing out the moles on her nose, and we were pretty scared of her and kind of glad she was not really our aunt.
I tell her story, her real story, so people can know the horrors of the Toy Campaigns, the Cabbage Patch Campaign of '78 and all the Toy Campaigns since then, like the Buzz Lightyear fiasco of '08, when a large shipment of Buzz dolls arrived for sale with a Woody head, not Buzz on them, like some miniature Frankenstein Monster, Buzz put together by committee, ruining Christmas for hundreds of confused children but, really, that is another story for another day, I just mention it to stress the human toll of the Toy Campaigns, but, really, that is going too far afield, since this is a story about Vicious, Hissing (Giant) Ninjadilloes stoked on Armadillo Growth Hormones and not some unbelievable story about mismade, mismatched dolls sold to the trusting parents of boys as "Action Figures."
"Fanny Griswallader would not be stopped that day," the retired Wal-Mart store manager, Hank Baskett told the wire service reporters in the aftermath of the Cleanup on Aisle 11. "Dentures were shattered. Purses were everywhere. Some of the women had broken toes and twisted fingers. There were the burning hulks of Electronic Customer Convenience Buggies (ECCB's) all over Aisle Eleven."
"One little Buggie rider made it out of Aisle Eleven, over to Aisle Twelve, and tried to hide among the home furnishings with her doll. They found her in the area rugs, took her doll, turned over her buggy and just left her there," Hank recalled, shivering.
Aunt Fanny Griswallader was still shell-shocked, they said, from her dash to the cash register attendant. In those days before the convenience of Self-Checkout, it was not enough to capture the prize. You had to get the doll, run the gauntlet to Check-Out (never more than five lanes open at a time) and hold off the crazed moms, while standing in line behind the bachelor shoppers trying to make time with the cute check out girls, but that is another story for another day. Fanny Griswallader held off all the others, checked out using cash (always appreciated) and made it to her car.
Hank remembered. He could not easily forget.
"They were like fiends," he said. "It was the day after Thanksgiving, too, so they were well-fed fiends."
"Sometimes, at night," he said, "when I close my eyes, I can still hear the burps they made when they rushed me."
"We never stacked the hot toy items that high again," Hank remembered. He began to cry.
I handed Hank a hankie. He thanked me, wiped his eyes and blew his nose, like a trumpet, on my hankie.
Hank offered my hankie back to me.
"Once you wipe your nose on it," I told him, "it is pretty much yours."
Of the notable conflicts of men and ninjadilloes, there is one incident the government has sought to suppress most of all. I learned of it and will offer it to you here. It happened in Brock, Texas, on the Finity Ranch, on the late night of October 5, 2009.
On that night, alone, unfriended and unafraid, Em Finity put her boys to bed, prayed with them, got them a drink of water, sang them a song, read them a story, took them to the bathroom, told them one more story, sweetly told them to go to sleep, now, right now, this minute, sang them another song, read them one more story, ordered them to stop talking to each other and to her, tucked them in one last time, changed the pajamas of the younger one so he would be wearing the same jammies as his older brother, who had really cool jammies and looked good in them,turned off the light, changed the jammies of the older boy who did not want to wear the same jammies as his little brother, demanded they go to sleep, turned the light back on so they could see she meant it this time, read them one more story, this one about little boys who do not go to sleep after they get on their mom's absolute last nerve (she made this story up out of the whole cloth, though every parent knows this story, though she was holding the book "The Little Engine Who Could" in her hand, but that just wasn't the story she wanted then, you know why if you have children and if you don't you will, you just wait and see if you don't, yes, you will), turned off the light, turned it back on so they could see she was still there and not gone off somewhere, turned off the light, told them she was going right then to call daddy and tell him how they were acting, closed the door, opened the door and told them to get back in bed, closed the door, went in the kitchen, stuck her head in the 'fridge, screamed, and then pulled her hair so hard some of it came out in her hands, wondered how anyone could think a lone mom would be frightened of anything after what she had gone through, loaded her (various) guns and stepped into the night to face the Gray Peril.
"Bring it on," she told the Vicious, Hissing (Giant) Ninjadilloes. "Mama's here and the skillet is hot."
(Not exactly a slogan like "Remember the Maine," but, well, you know, it was late, she was tired and you get the idea.)
; The Dilloes, many of whom had fallen asleep waiting for her to come out, massed.